Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Your intentions may not be as pure as you think!

PROVERBS 16:2
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.

Our dogs have a terrible habit. At least three or four times a day, they will begin barking at the neighbor's dog (actually, the neighbor's dog may be starting it). Their barking becomes so intense that they are all at the fence, clawing at it (sometimes even biting it), trying to get through to the other side.

We have a command for them to stop. We say, "Leave it!" If they stop barking and follow us inside, they get a treat. If they don't, we scoop them up (they're quite small), carry them inside, and sentence them to 15 minutes in their cages.

Every time this happens, I feel like Mylie (the smarter of the two dogs) looks up at me and her eyes say, "But master, I was protecting you!"

She believes that her motivation was pure. I know she was simply acting on her beastly instinct.


We do the same thing. We tend to assign ourselves the best motives. Even when we do something we know to be wrong, we justify it by telling ourself that our intentions are good. In conflict, we tend to judge others by their words or actions but want others to evaluate us according to our good motives.

God actually sees our heart. He weighs our spirit. He knows we are often motivated by selfishness, greed, vengeance, anger, etc. The Bible tells us that the mouth speaks (and the person acts) out of the abundance of the heart. If the output of your life is bad, that means the input was bad.

This is a good opportunity to examine your heart. Take a moment to second guess your motives. Don't immediately default to the excuse of "good intentions." Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.

Then...

Ask yourself what it would look like to always be motivated by love. Fill your mind with reasons why you love God. In every interaction, use your energy to discover reasons to love other people. Choose to modify your motivations. Choose love.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

10 Leftovers From The First of Ten Commandments

EXODUS 20:1-3
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.

1) God is a PERSONAL God. "He is the Lord YOUR God". He is not absent, passive or unconcerned. He is present, active and full of compassion.

2) God sets captives free. God's path does not enslave us, it liberates us.

3) Because God is the ONLY God who delivers, He is the ONLY God we should worship.

4) Everyone is devoted to something. The outcomes of your life are determined by the devotion of your life.

5) To be devoted to God is to offer Him the first and best of every part of your life.

6) We offer God our first and best because He gave us His first and best.

7) Too often we are to our self. Self-devotion manifests itself in the pursuit of  POSSESSIONS, PLEASURE, POPULARITY, or POWER.

8) I cannot be devoted to myself and to God.

9) My devotion can be measured by evaluating how I schedule my CALENDAR, how I utilize my CAPABILITIES, or how I spend my CASH.

10) We can change our devotion my moving our treasure. Wherever we invest our treasure is where our heart will move.

A Fool Proof Plan For Personal Protection

PROVERBS 2:11
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,

Discretion is the practice of making decisions according to a predetermined plan. I show discretion when I choose not to purchase Swiss Cake Rolls because I am following a plan to save money and lose weight.

Understanding is the practice of thinking deeply and investigating carefully before reaching conclusions. When I react without thinking, or when I believe the first thing I hear, or when I assume the worst about a person; I am demonstrating a lack of understanding.

Discretion and understanding will protect you in life. Discretion is best when your predetermined plan is the path God has laid out in His Word. Understanding is most effective when your primary consideration is whether or not something aligns with the truth of Scripture.

Don’t make snap judgments today. Don’t act quickly or without thought. Because you are living in a sinful world, your instincts are sometimes tainted by sin. Instead, choose discretion and wisdom.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

You Cannot Win. So Don't Try.

PROVERBS 26:4-5Answer not a fool according to his folly,
lest you be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly,
lest he be wise in his own eyes.

This is one of my favorite proverbs. At first glance, it appears to be two contradictory statements. Both cannot be true. They are mutually exclusive.

BUT...

If you read them together and understand them as one larger proverb, you get the real meaning:

Don't argue with a fool. You cannot win.

Some people simply do not want to have a reasonable discussion. Some are completely unwilling to consider a change to their position or point of view. Some are interested only in fighting, not finding solutions.

Don't argue with them. You cannot win.

This feels like a pretty good description of political discourse in America today. It seems to be a fairly accurate snapshot of what happens on social media every day.

Here's your challenge. Don't be the fool. Don't be the person who can't engage in a productive conversation with someone who has a different perspective. Here are three simple rules to remember to help you avoid being a fool:

1) Listen intently.
2) Don't interrupt.
3) Use questions to gain clarity and understanding before you respond.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Are You A Creator or a Destroyer?

PROVERBS 18:9
A lazy person is as bad as
someone who destroys things.


1) As image bearers of God, we were made to be creators. We create with our hands, with our actions, with our words, etc.

2) Creating takes action. Lazy people don't create anything (victimhood and apathy are synonymous with laziness).

3) What you create doesn't have to be tangible or physical. You might create joy or peace for someone else. You might create hope by meeting the need of your neighbor. We all have different gifts which enable us to be creative in different ways.

4) What will you create today?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

You Can't Fix Everything For Everyone. But You Can Do Something.

PROVERBS 12:25
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down,
but a good word makes him glad.

Stop.

Before you do you anything else, find a piece of paper or a sticky note or a notebook or something you can write on. Now, write down the names of three people you know you will see today.

You have no idea what is going in these people's hearts. You may know some of the situations they are dealing with. You may understand some of their hurts and some of their joys. But you don't know it all. None of us do.

Something is causing anxiety in these people. You may have an idea of what it is. You may not have a clue.

None of us can know everything that is going on in the hearts of the people around us.

What we all CAN DO, is offer a good word to everyone we encounter.


If you aren't sure how to offer a good word to someone else, here are ten suggestions:

  • encourage
  • compliment
  • motivate
  • inspire
  • praise
  • admire
  • appreciate
  • commend
  • congratulate
  • applaud

You can't fix everything for everyone. You can brighten their day and lighten their load by offering a good word.

Go back to your list now. Take a moment and pray for each person on the list. Before you see them today, commit to offering them a good word. If you aren't sure what to say, review the list above and something will come to you.

Jesus said you are the light. Brighten the world of the people around you.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Life Is About More Than Turning A Profit

PROVERBS 10:2
Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit,
but righteousness delivers from death.

I don't watch it much anymore because I don't seem to have time, but when "The Profit" (a tv show about entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis) was first released, I watched almost every episode for a couple of seasons. I was intrigued by Lemonis' approach to business, particularly the firm but compassionate manner in which he dealt with people.

He was also a very good businessman, and he was very successful in turning around family businesses that were failing.

In business, success and failure are measured by a simple standard... PROFIT. If your money is increasing, you are winning. If your money is decreasing, you are losing.


Proverbs 10:2 challenges our understanding of profit. Not all financial (or material) gain is good. Not all who appear successful are righteous. Temporary gain is not the same as an eternal reward.

Jesus had something to say about this in Mark 8. He said, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?"

My goal today is to pay more attention to people than to profit. I'm going to think more about righteousness than reward. I will try to give more than I get.

Will you join me?